Upland Pine, Blackwater River State Forest. Photo by Gary Knight

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Update from the Field: Striped Newts (Notophthalmus perstriatus)

Paedomorphic striped newt, photo by Dan Hipes.
FNAI scientists conducted dip-net surveys for Striped Newts (Notophthalmus perstriatus) at potential breeding sites in Apalachicola National Forest from March through May of 2017. The striped newt is a small, semi-terrestrial salamander found in sandhill, scrub, and similar xeric habitats in Georgia and Florida, typically breeding in shallow, isolated, ephemeral wetlands. The striped newt is considered a federal candidate for listing as a threatened species (June 7, 2011 Federal Register). After many years of no evidence of breeding striped newts were presumed to be extirpated in the Apalachicola National Forest; however, a few individuals were found during the spring of 2016 and winter of 2017, renewing hope for the population.

Striped newt male and female aquatic adults, photo by Dale Jackson.
FNAI scientists conducted dip-net surveys using the Standard Protocol For Ephemeral Wetland Dip-Netting Surveys, a method developed by FWC. The scientists surveyed 176 sites, 80 of the 176 ponds holding enough water to sample for striped newts.

Typical striped newt breeding site in ANF, photo by Dave Almquist.
Although many other amphibians and reptiles were captured during surveying, there were no striped newts captured during the effort, providing additional evidence of the decline of the striped newt population in Apalachicola National Forest.  We hope to continue searching for this secretive member of our local sandhill community.